Dublin Villager

Author's Corner returns to Dublin Irish Festival

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A former Boston mobster will be part of the Irish Author's Corner at the Dublin Irish Festival.

The Irish Author's Corner, started last year for the 25th anniversary of the festival, will return for a second year with John "Red" Shea headlining.

"I think there is a real interest in Irish and Irish-American authors," said Alison LeRoy, Dublin events manager.

"There's a rich history of literature in Ireland and we had some authors in the spoken word or Irish tradition tents in the past and people asking questions," LeRoy said.

"We wanted a place for people to interact. We had a great response last year."

Shay, author of "Rat Bastards: The Life and Times of South Boston's Most Honorable Mobster," will be on hand in the Irish Author's Corner and speak in the Abbey Theater from 5 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3 and Sunday, Aug. 4.

Shea was an Irish-American mobster in Boston in the 1980s and 90s and was involved with the Winter Hill Gang.

According to his biography on johnshea.com, he was also an associate of James "Whitey" Bulgar, who is currently on trial for several crimes, including 19 murders.

In his youth, Shea boxed, but then became involved in crime. In 1990, Shea was arrested for operating a continuing criminal enterprise and later sentenced to 11 years in prison.

His book focuses on his life, as well as the culture and traditions of his South Boston neighborhood.

LeRoy said Shea was recruited after Events Administrator Mary Jo DiSalvo was given his book.

"We contacted him and he said, 'yes,'" she said.

At the Irish Author's Corner, authors will be around throughout the weekend and the Book Loft will have books by the authors on hand for purchase. The authors will also be speaking in different venues around the festival.

"We are asking a lot of them this year to take a session on the cultural stages," LeRoy said.

Most of the authors will be together for a panel slated for 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2.

"You can hear them all speak at once," LeRoy said, adding that a moderator from the Dublin branch library will ask questions.

Other authors invited to the Dublin Irish Festival include Ann O'Farrell, author of "Norah's Children," and Liffey Rivers mystery series author Brenna Briggs.

"We have an author geared toward teens and pre-teen readers," LeRoy said of Briggs. "She writes a series of books about Irish dancers."

Otterbein University Professor and Irish economy expert Sean Kay will return and Elizabeth Osta, author of "Jeremiah's Hunger" will also be at the festival.

The Dublin Irish Festival runs Aug. 2-4 in Coffman Park. For a complete schedule of cultural area speakers, look online at Dublinirishfestival.org.

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